2013 : Play for Japan

Jul 25, 2023, 3:15:52 PM

McEnroe VS Nishikori, a match for solidarity 

It took seven points to John McEnroe to prove that he still had it. On 17 November 2013, he faced Kei Nishikori in an exhibition match. It was his first match on Japanese soil since 1997. Nishikori was a local star and ranked World No. 11. 10,000 people attended the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum; the money earnt from ticketing was donated to the Tohoku Tennis Association for renovating the tennis equipment wiped out by the tsunami that hit the country in March 2011. Nishikori, who had gone easy on McEnroe until then, stepped up his game in the second set and eventually won 1/6, 6/4, 10/7. “Considering that I was asked to play this match only a  couple of weeks ago, I  think my  body moved  pretty well,” McEnroe said after the match. “I had a few good shots; I think he felt for me. It is nice to be here and help people who are going through a tough time.” Kei Nishikori became a true idol in Japan after he made it to the US Open final in 2014 –the best Grand Slam performance ever for a Japanese tennis player back then– and won the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. With his coach Michael Chang, they often use their fame to shine a light on causes they care about, like helping homeless people. It is mainly what the Michael Chang Tennis Classic (MCTC) –a yearly exhibition tournament launched by the youngest French Open winner– is about. In 2017, Chang and Nishikori teamed up to play the doubles event; they raised $90,000 for the HomeAid Orange County, a charity founded in 1989 to find a home for homeless people. They did it again in 2018 and 2019. This year, the MCTC will donate the money to UCI Mind, a research centre for Alzheimer’s diagnosis, treatment, and cure.

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